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Healthbeat 4: The importance of sleep

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Sioux City, Iowa (KTIV) -- "You snore, and all of a sudden you (pause) and there's not the out, that's the sign of a sleep issue," said Nicole Shea, Nurse Practitioner, CNOS Neurology Department. And that's not the only indication a person might be sleep deprived and possibly have a sleep disorder.

Medical professionals who study sleep know it's more than important, to get enough of it on a daily basis.

One thing that might be standing in the way of a good night's sleep: Sleep Apnea.

"Patients who are not getting enough oxygen to their brain, enough blood to their brain, they're not getting good quality sleep, they have increasing memory problems. It increases their risk of heart attack and stroke. We actually see structural changes in their hearts from sleep apnea. It just causes a whole slew of problems," said Shea.

Shea, a Nurse Practitioner with the Neurology Department at CNOS, says tossing and turning isn't the only clue. There are clear signs that indicate a person is sleep-deprived.

"If you have hypersomnia, which means you're just tired all the time. You wake up tired, you go to bed tired, you don't feel like you sleep, you're restless, you're sheets are in a knot when you wake up in the morning, all of those can be a sleep disorder," said Shea.

Add to that list restlessness, snoring, and obstructive sleep apnea, when you stop breathing while you're sleeping. Shea says those conditions can be evaluated and treated through medical facilities like CNOS, and your family doctor, and insurance covers most treatments.

Sleep disorders can also be taken care of without medications, and by limiting the intake of one beverage in particular. "You really do need to stop your caffeine by Noon. You really do need to try to limit the amount of caffeine you drink," said Shea.

Shea says some patients claim coffee is not linked to their lack of shut-eye, but it truly can be one of the things keeping people up at night.

The goal is to make changes to get quality sleep that will make us feel rested, alert, and healthy because a lack of sleep can make us more than just tired.

"It can cause memory loss, it can cause strokes, it can cause depression, it can cause anxiety, it can cause emotional instability, it can cause all kinds of things," said Shea.

Shea says the Epworth Sleepiness Scale is a helpful tool, which can be found online.

Questions on the survey can help determine if someone has a sleep disorder. How likely are you to fall asleep when sitting and reading a book? If you're in a public place or even in a Zoom meeting, how likely are you to doze off in the middle of the meeting?

A person is at risk with a score higher than 10 and anything higher than 15 is high risk.

Shea says sleep is not over-rated. People need it to maintain a good quality of life.

Stella Daskalakis

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